OPINION: Trump’s animosity digs down deep into the Georgia ballot

John King, longtime Doraville police chief, was sworn in Monday as acting state insurance commissioner

Credit: James Salzer

Credit: James Salzer

John King, longtime Doraville police chief, was sworn in Monday as acting state insurance commissioner

In the old days — and I mean like way back in 2015 — a candidate like John King, Georgia’s incumbent Insurance Commissioner, would be considered to be a golden nugget coveted and treasured by the GOP.

King is a former police chief, a combat-tested Army general and a man who helped repair a department rocked by the corruption of its former leader. The dutifully conservative leader is also Hispanic, a valuable asset in a party looking to expand its membership.

“If you watch John King speak and how he connects with people, he could be the future of the Republican Party,” said Martha Zoller, a longtime conservative activist and radio host.

But in the cuckoo world that is 2022 politics, King is just another RINO member of the establishment who needs a good dose of primarying. And Donald Trump has just the right “outsider” for you. Trump last week endorsed Patrick Witt, a fledgling pol who had been trying, without much success, to become a Congressman.

King got the job in 2019, when then-Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck got indicted in a fraud scheme, for which he was convicted. King was seen as an outsider, an upright man in uniform beyond reproach.

So, what’s the problem with King? He was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp, a man who Trump dislikes about as much as a Democratic House Select Committee investigator digging into Jan. 6.

Kemp has been in Trump’s crosshairs since 2020, when he refused to bend the law to weasel out an election victory in Georgia for the soon-to-be-outgoing president.

Trump, no doubt, has a dart board in Mar-a-Largo with Governor Shotgun’s visage, a big beautiful dart board. “Brine” Kemp has gotten under The Orange One’s skin so much that Trump said, “I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.” He even told a Georgia crowd that Kemp’s 2018 and possible 2022 opponent, Stacey Abrams, ”might be better than having your existing governor.”

Again, that once might have seemed crazy, but it is now our new, strange normal.

1/4/21 - Dalton, GA - President Donald Trump holds a rally in Dalton, GA, to campaign for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on the eve of the special election which will determine control of the U.S. Senate.   (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

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Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Trump is now employing a scorched earth attack on Kemp. It’s like the time former U.S. Sen David Perdue “prayed” for Barack Obama using Psalm 109:8. “Let his days be few; and let another have his office,” Perdue told a crowd a few years back.

As it turns out, the Psalm passage continued, “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg.”

That’s certainly Trump’s game plan for Kemp, and some other elected Georgia Republican politicians.

Trump started his crusade by going after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger after he didn’t “find” the victory Trump believed was his. The ex-president endorsed Congressman Jody Hice for that post because he was was a big Stop the Steal purveyor and Trump, no doubt, believes he’d be more inventive in election law than Raffey next time around.

Trump has also endorsed Herschel Walker because the Bulldog legend once played for The Donald’s USFL team and they’ve been buds since.

Later, Trump backed Perdue to run against Kemp because Kemp simply needs to be beaten, no matter what kind of damage it inflicts on his hijacked party. Remember, Trump’s petulant griping about the 2020 election helped incumbent senators Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler get beat in the January 2021 runoff. You’d think Perdue might be miffed by that. But his stance, like most in the GOP, has been, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

Trump also backed state Sen. Burt Jones, a former UGA football player, for Lt. Governor because he was a Stop the Steal schemer. He even threw old Vernon Jones, the Dem-turned-Trump enthusiast, a bone, endorsing him for Hice’s old congressional seat. This was done because he didn’t want The Vern malingering in the governor’s race and screwing things up for Trump lackey Perdue.

Now that The Donald has run out of A-Class political offices to endorse, he has dropped down to the insurance commissioner post. He picked Witt, who was trying to gain traction in the 10th District Congressional race against Vernon Jones and a zillion other candidates.

Seen here is Doraville Police Chief John King in 2006, while training in the California desert for duty in Iraq with the Georgia National Guard. King has been promoted to command the Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

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You wonder if Trump will ultimately go after anyone Kemp has appointed to any post, like maybe a soil and water commissioner post in Middle Georgia.

Witt, with degrees from Yale AND Harvard, is obviously smart. He also played football and helped the Stop the Steal movement, so that checks a couple more boxes.

Ryan Mahoney, a spokesman for King’s campaign, noted that King had stumped for Trump’s election and even went down to Texas to help with operations going on the border.

But as anyone knows, no good deed on behalf of Trump gets noticed by him — unless it’s accompanied with insipid groveling.

Zoller, who has been supportive of both Perdue and Kemp, did not welcome Perdue’s entrance to the primary.

“It’s hard to make the case you’re uniting the party by doing a primary challenge,” she said. “This hurts, but I think we can still win” in the general election against Abrams.

“The trump card,” she said, immediately acknowledging the pun, “is, will he tell people not to vote” if Kemp wins the primary?

I think we already know the answer.